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Reward for arsonist in Station fire could top $150,000 today

September 8, 2009 |  7:52 am

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is expected to approve a $50,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of the arsonist who set the deadly Station fire.

The state has already established a $100,000 reward in the fire, which killed two firefighters and destroyed dozens of structures.

Investigators believe a substance found near the Station fire’s point of origin helped spread the deadly blaze, and it has emerged as a key piece of evidence in the arson probe, a source told The Times.

The source would not identify the substance but said it was found in the brush off Angeles Crest Highway, walking distance from the turnoff that is at the center of the arson probe.

The source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because it was an ongoing investigation, said the substance was taken to a lab for testing to further verify arson investigators' findings. The recovered material is not a device, according to the source.

“There was material that didn't belong there. It was clear evidence that the fire was intentionally set,” the source said.

Sources said investigators are going through a database of arson suspects and fire bugs to search for possible suspects.

Winds and low humidity stoked flames on the northern front of the huge Station fire overnight, while the western flank from La Cañada to Acton remained quiet.

“I feel very good with the progress made today,” U.S. Forest Service incident commander Mike Dietrich said in the early evening. “I would like to see more. We’ll continue tonight and go after it tomorrow.”

Winds blowing 30 to 40 miles an hour today energized the fire burning in the Pleasant View Ridge area of the San Gabriel Wilderness, north of Mt. Waterman.

Cooler temperatures and rising humidity this week should aid fire crews, who have had to deal with torrid heat  and dauntingly steep terrain.

“This has been a real tough fight,” said Michael Bryant, an L.A. County deputy fire chief.

--Bettina Boxall and Richard Winton